Response to Hey Mike Kelly!


You might be right that a case could have been made prior to WWII for the Allies not getting involved due to their complicity in creating the situation. I suppose it's all a case of assessing the perceived threat/risk/moral obligation and making a decision to act or not. However, on balance I disagree with you: I just don't think there are enough similarities to justify your point. Do you really believe that modern day Iraq represents a threat serious enough to justify military intervention? And even if you do, do you genuinely believe that's what Blair & Bush think?

Sorry, I just don't buy it. Not while US and British arms firms continue to supply serious quantities of military hardware to all sorts of tyrants and despots the world over. Not while the US and British governments refuse to prioritise disarmament or put human rights on the agenda in any meaningful way. And not while the US, at least, continues to exempt itself from non-proliferation treaties and ignores proliferation in countries such as Israel which it regards as 'friendly'. Whether a state is a so-called 'rogue state' depends very much on one's viewpoint. To many an ordinary Mike (or Abdul or whoever) sitting at home in Baghdad, or Lima, or Nicaragua, etc. etc. contemplating such questions without the benefit of our enlightened Western perspective, the US and Israel must look like the roguest of rogue states. Does that not confer on Iraq, from its own perspective, the same right to arm itself as we in the US or Britain would claim for ourselves? As I said before, your argument depends entirely on an acceptance of the essential 'goodness' of the capitalist West and 'badness' of just about everybody else. Lose that illusion, and suddenly the US looks just like all the rest; an almost-bankrupt economy with an ill-informed population, led by a half-mad halfwit who was elected by far, far less than half the population after fighting a filthy campaign backed by an array of arms and energy business interests, who are now all clamouring for their slice of the cake before the proverbial hits the fan. Not my kind of a world I'm afraid, but I guess I'll have to make the best of it.

I wouldn't argue that there's no evidence of terrible deeds committed by the Iraqi government against it's own people. What I would argue is that such issues form little or no part of the motivation for Bush and Blair's proposed intervention. Such atrocities were carried on for years with hardly a murmur. Worse, they were carried out with the full knowledge and compliance of the governments who's economies grew on the back of the hardware sales that underpinned them. Such acts of internal violence continue to be perpetrated across the globe using Western-supplied hardware. If human rights were really the issue, why is the terrible behaviour of the Saudi government towards it's own people, for example, tolerated? Shouldn't we intervene there on the same basis? The answer I think is because the Saudi government is economically necessary to the Western powers, while Saddam has outlived his usefulness.

However, I don't believe the agenda has changed fundamentally. I can't agree with you that military intervention in Iraq is likely to be to the benefit of the Iraqi people. I wish I could but I can't. The historical reasons why the West has feared Shia majority rule haven't changed. No Western government has shown any desire for the general population of any Middle Eastern 'state' to have a real say in their political affairs. There is no genuine democracy anywhere in the Middle East. There is no legitimately elected government (apart, some might argue, from in Israel!). There aren't even any genuine nation-states, with the possible exception of Egypt. There is really just the legacy of the post-Ottoman carve-up of the region by the British and French. And all the evidence suggests that this situation suits the economic interests of the Western powers very well indeed.

To me, the most likely outcome is an alternative Sunni leadership, one more palatable to refined Western tastes, but ultimately no more representative of the general Iraqi population than is Saddam. The US and Britain want a leadership they can do business with. They certainly don't want a leadership who might have the temerity to seek to use Iraq's vast potential oil wealth to further the interests of its own people at the expense of our demand for cheap oil, or who might threaten the prevailing, carefully constructed, OPEC price-fixing charade that serves Western energy demands so well. I foresee a situation not dissimilar in principle to that which exists in Saudi emerging, although I would concede that the fine details might appear to differ. But basically the more in the pocket of the West the regime is, the better it will suit everybody, other than the ordinary Iraqis who will remain bottom of the pile.

If, as you say, the Iraqi people being better off is the most important thing, then surely the best way to encourage that situation would be for the West to abandon its oil interests and allow the region true economic independence.

I don't think I'm looking for Nirvana. But perhaps you're an optimist and I'm just an old cynic. I admire your ability to believe that good will come of this, but I still think you're dangerously misguided about it. Where is your evidence that this is even a possible, let alone probable, outcome, given the historical and economic background, about which we seem to mostly agree?

Created By: Bruce Harper